WEATHER IN LINCOLN COUNTY

 

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Letter to the editor: Mental Health Services and the County Budget

The views and opinions of submitters to “Letters to the Editor” do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of NewsLincolnCounty.com, its staff or advertisers. The positions taken in the following letter are strictly those of the submitter.
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From Chandler Davis
Community Mental Health Booster

Together we cast more than 3,000 votes each, last week, against two of the three County Commissioners who voted for these outrageous cuts to mental health and addiction treatment services in the midst of a deadly opioid emergency, a re-emerging methamphetamine crisis, a tragic and out-of-control homelessness emergency, and a bold effort to get people with mental health and substance use disorders out of the county jail that will go nowhere if we do not increase our county’s behavioral health treatment resources substantially.

I believe that Cheryl Connell has been scapegoated for the substantial deficiencies in the Lincoln County Department of Health and Human Services by the very people who were in fact in charge of overseeing the department’s policies. But whatever her failures may have been, I can personally attest that she was committed to mental health and addiction treatment as DHHS Director and despite being retired, she still continues to be a strong advocate for addressing the county’s urgent behavioral health treatment needs.

Don’t be conned into thinking that this is a minor matter; it is important, and it is urgent!

Therefore: “CALL TO ACTION
If you think the County’s cuts to our Mental Health and Addictions programs are wrong, you can let the County Budget Committee know that you want these programs restored for the coming year. The County Budget Committee is made up of the 3 County Commissioners plus 3 appointed members of the public.

The Budget Committee is meeting over the next 2 weeks to approve the coming year’s budget, which begins July 1. The Budget meetings are open to us, The Public, for comments.
They are scheduled for:

–6 PM Tuesday (5/22) at Lincoln City City Hall,
–6 PM Wednesday 5/23 at Toledo City Hall, and
–6 PM Wednesday 5/30 at the Lincoln County Courthouse

Here’s how the Budget Committee can restore the cuts. There is $1.83 million in unspent Mental Health revenue that should be invested back in our County Mental and Addictions programs. The funds are in the account known as 219-100 Capital Projects. The funds were placed in that account when the County was planning to build a new building in Newport in the south Courthouse parking lot so that all Health and Human Services would be located in the same building. However, those plans were recently scrapped because the site did not pass required environmental tests.

Let the Budget Committee know that:
— There is $1.83 million in unspent Mental Health revenue in the account known as 219-100 Capital Projects.
— None of this $1.83 million is General Fund.
— Our communities need more, not fewer, mental health and addiction services, especially to support the County’s Stepping Up Initiative.
— It is right and just to use the money to restore the $1.7 million cuts that were recently made to the Mental Health and Addictions budget. And that you expect them, as our public officials, to do what is right and just.
If you cannot attend a meeting, you can send your written comments to the Board’s staff to share with the Budget Committee members:

*Kristi Whitaker kwhitaker@co.lincoln.or.us or
* Casey Miller clmiller@co.lincoln.or.us
* Or you can call the Board at 541-265-4100 to leave your comments for the Budget Committee.
* We all have a voice in this process–so let’s show our public officials how well we use our voices.”

Chandler Davis

 

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